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How much information should you provide about yourself in an interview? It’s a fine line between not providing enough information and oversharing. Knowing what to say and what not to say often trips up many people when attending a job interview. Job interviews can be stressful and daunting enough without worrying about how much info you should share about yourself, however providing too much irrelevant information could just lose you the job.
With some interviews being more relaxed these days and seeming just like a casual conversation or a “chat” it can be easy to fall into the trap of sharing a little too much with the interviewer. Knowing how much to share about yourself and not talking too much are critical to ensuring you put your best foot forward at an interview.
Oversharing is where you provide too much information about yourself. Often that information is irrelevant to your ability to do the job, it can be personal information about what is happening or has happened in your personal life or it can be work information but you can go into too much detail about a situation and provide irrelevant information. By over sharing you risk losing the interest of the interviewer.
Some people are naturally talkative and can “talk the leg off a chair.” If you know this is your natural style, when preparing for interview it will be important to consider exactly what information you want the interviewer to know and what’s important for them to know to be able to assess your suitability. Taking in some bullet pointed notes about the key information you need to share might be useful. Having it written in front of you, you’ll be able to glance at your notes and talk to the bullet points and once you have them covered off that will be the sign that you need to tell you to stop talking.
Others aren’t naturally an over-sharer but with the nerves of an interview and when there is silence in the interview room, many people often feel the need to fill the silence. To fill the silence, we talk; often filling the silence by blurting out information to keep the conversation going.
The common interview question “Tell me about yourself” is used by recruiters and hiring managers as an ice breaker and to get candidates to open up about themselves. You’d think this would be an easy interview question because all you have to do is talk about yourself. However, this is a question I find most people really struggle with. Many people fall into the trap of sharing irrelevant information and rambling on in way too much detail. Unloading with too much information about personal and or professional struggles can be a big turnoff. You don’t want to be perceived as negative, focused on problems and issues, or appear to have too much baggage.
Over-sharing is off putting to a potential employer because as you are sitting there rambling on about irrelevant information we are assessing if you’ll do the same when you are in the job and are dealing with a client / customer or even another team member in another department of our business. We are assessing if you are the team member that will be hanging out by the water cooler sharing your life story and life dramas with the rest of the team, distracting everyone from the job they should be doing. We are also assessing your ability to read the situation and as you are over sharing are you picking up on the ques that the information you are sharing is not relevant or engaging us.
If you are an over-sharer you can try these techniques to help keep you on track at an interview:
- Preparation is key, take the time to think about and note down what key messages / information you want the interviewer to know about you. As you write your list keep asking yourself is that information relevant to my ability to do the job.
- Really listen to the interview question. Often because we are nervous, we don’t really listen to the question we are being asked. We are already thinking how we are going to respond and then we miss the detail/intent of the interview question. It’s easy to fall into the trap of rambling and sharing irrelevant info because we don’t really know what question we are supposed to be answering.
- Less is more. Answer the question succinctly and if you are unsure if you have provided enough information ask the interviewer if you have answered their question or if they would like more detail. Chances are a good interviewer will probe if they want more detail.
Finding the balance between providing too much information and not enough is difficult however having the self-awareness to identify if you are an over-sharer is the first step to being able to manage your over-sharing tendencies.
Angela Connor is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource and career coaching companies. She understands the significance of having the right team of people in a business and is passionate about helping business to attract, recruit and engage the right people so those people can inject their talents into the business; creating an environment where they can do great work and love what they do. Find more useful information and advice at www.inspirehq.com.au or by following Angela on LinkedIn.